Jane Austen's Guide to Modern Life's Dilemmas by Rebecca Smith

Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas by Rebecca Smith

This is a delightful book, one of many  recently published “conduct books” based on moral lessons to be learnt from Jane Austen’s works and letters, but, in my opinion, it is one of the best.

It is written by Rebecca Smith who is Jane Austen’s  great-great-great-great-great-niece. She teaches creative writing at Southampton University and the writer’s gene seems to have been passed down to her, for her style is clear, witty and very readable.

The dilemmas Rebecca chooses to solve using her ancestors wise words are very modern indeed, and I think are, in the main, addressed to a youngish audience: how to “unfriend” someone on Facebook ( very tricky in my experience), the problems or pleasures of dating an older man, and how to introduce your man to your (ahem) crazy family are some of the individual dilemmas she seeks to advise upon. I rather enjoyed the answers to very modern situations experienced by the more mature of us: the  responses produced by “how to balance children and a career”, “how to make time for the gym” and “how to deal with an office dragon” are some of my favourites.

My only gripe with this book is its appearance. In the main the cream background supports a pale purple text, with quotations from Jane Austen’s works, letters and in one case, her will, set into purple inserts printed with deep purple print:

The text of Jane Austen's will

The text of Jane Austen’s will

They were hard to read without good daylight or a book light, and I wish the publisher’s designer had kept to the clear( and witty) style of the illustration on the cover; a Regency lady despairing while holding her iPad. But this is me being very picky. I think most of you would enjoy seeing Jane Austen’s wise words and attitudes translated to apply to our 21st century problems, and so I would urge you to buy a copy.